Thanksgiving is one of the few major American holidays that cannot be traced back to a particular religious tradition. However, the values Thanksgiving celebrates—the importance of family and friends, the comfort of home and a spirit of gratitude—are shared across most of the world’s major faiths.
Here are prayers from several of the world’s largest religious traditions for the holiday.
The following prayer, whose author is unknown, comes from the Buddhist tradition, according to the Jesuit Resource’s multi-faith Prayer Index. While not explicitly connected to the secular holiday, the sentiments expressed make it an appropriate reflection for Thanksgiving.
This food is the gift of the whole universe,
Each morsel is a sacrifice of life,
May I be worthy to receive it.
May the energy in this food,
Give me the strength,
To transform my unwholesome qualities
into wholesome ones.
I am grateful for this food,
May I realize the Path of Awakening,
For the sake of all beings.
The joys and pains of all beings
are present in the gift of this food.
Let us receive it in love
And in mindfulness of our sisters and brothers
among living beings of every kind
who are hungry or homeless,
sick or injured,
or suffering in any way.
(RNS) — For more than a decade, Rizwan Mawani has been living, working and praying with Muslims in 50 different communities across 17 countries. As you’d expect, he has visited plenty of masjids, as mosques are called in Arabic, meaning “a place of prostration.”
But Mawani, a 45-year-old Canadian scholar and research consultant, whose new book is called “Beyond the Mosque: Diverse Spaces of Muslim Worship,” also spent time in Sufi khanaqas, Shia husayniyyas, Druze khalwas, Ismaili jamatkhanas as well as religious schools known as madrasas and other spaces of Islamic devotion from Canada to China.
Mawani uses these varied sacred spaces as lenses through which to offer readers a primer on the expansive histories, varied architectures and evolving ritual practices of Muslims around the world.
“While the mosque has come to predominate over our architectural assumptions and is often considered as the place of worship for Muslims, a survey of where ritual takes place … demonstrates that there are alternative venues in which Muslims pray,” Mawani wrote in the new book.
Episcopal News Service – Boston] Ayman Bassyouni arrives early at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul around noon each Friday to lay 15 rows of silk prayer rugs end to end on the sanctuary’s floor.
An Egyptian, Bassyouni regularly attends jumah, or Friday prayers, at the Episcopal cathedral. He is one of a few hundred men and a handful of women – mostly immigrants from North Africa, South and Southeast Asia, the Middle East and the Balkans – who pray there together.
In Islam, Friday is considered the sacred day of worship; ordinarily, Muslims pray five times a day, but on Friday, males are obliged to pray in congregation at midday.
The cathedral’s longstanding welcome of the Muslim community is one way it lives into its mission to be “a house of prayer for all people.” In the United States, where religious literacy is in decline but religion plays an increasing role in the cultural narrative, interfaith relationships build tolerance.
Beginning on Sunday, in a partnership with Boston’s Jewish and Muslim communities, St. Paul’s will host “ABRAHAM: Out of One, Many.” Presented by CARAVAN, the Oct. 27-Dec. 6 exhibit explores the concept of living harmoniously through artists’ paintings interpreting Abraham’s life and faith journey.
“Many people struggle to really understand their own tradition, let alone other people’s tradition; and my experience has been that when you’re in conversation with people of a different tradition, it causes you to learn more about your own tradition too,” said the Very Rev. Amy McCreath, dean of the cathedral, about the exhibit in a parish newsletter. “It feels to me really, really important right now that we understand our tradition and how it’s connected both to Judaism and Islam, and that we counter that sectarianism and that violence, both intellectually by knowing the history, [as well as through] building relationships with real people in real time
On the last Sunday of every month, the Muslim call to prayer sounds across the U.S.-Mexico border. A Christian service also begins, as a sermon is delivered.
These are the shots captured in the short film, “A Prayer Beyond Borders”, produced by the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) California, MoveOn and Beyond Border Studios.
Members of the Christian and Muslim community in San Diego and Tijuana gather at both sides of Friendship Park to pray, listen to sermons and congregate. Gathering at the space is a way to show support to separated families at the border, according to a statement from CAIR San Diego.
The film, which will be officially launched on Oct.7, was months in the making. The Border Church, founded by Rev. John Fanestil, has been holding prayer services at Friendship Park since 2008. They were approached by some of the city’s Muslim community, now dubbed “The Border Mosque”, around six months ago. A collaboration soon sprung up.
The announcement of the three houses of worship, collectively known as the “Abrahamic Family House,” follows Pope Francis’ February visit to the UAE, the first papal visit to the Arabian Peninsula. During the visit, Pope Francis and the grand imam of al-Azhar, Dr. Ahmed el-Tayeb, signed a declaration to form an interfaith council called The Higher Committee of Human Fraternity.
The Abrahamic Family House, set to be completed on 2022, is the first initiative by the new committee, according to media reports.
“The formation of the Committee has come at an important time and has required all peace lovers to unite and join the efforts to spread coexistence, brotherhood, and tolerance throughout the world,” Judge Mohamed Mahmoud Abdel Salam, committee member and former advisor to el-Tayeb, said in a statement.
Northwestern’s 161st annual Baccalaureate Service kicked off Thursday (June 20) with majestic music and a call to prayer from different faiths, giving graduating seniors, their parents and guests a time to reflect on the eve of Commencement.
The interfaith celebration of diversity included the sounds of a Tibetan singing bowl humming for several minutes as members of three other faiths took turns interjecting the sounds of their own religious traditions: Christian church chimes, a Muslim call to prayer and the Jewish shofar.
President Morton Schapiro, dressed in his purple regalia, welcomed some 600 guests in Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, praising the power of the interfaith assembly and observing, “How beautiful is it to celebrate in one space the world’s greatest religions?”
The annual service welcomes all members of the University community, honoring multiple faith traditions. Above the stage hung seven flags representing Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, Sikhism and the Baha’i faith — some of the many faiths represented on campus. An eighth flag had a Northwestern ‘N.’
The President noted that other “secular” Universities are sometimes known to avoid faith, but “at Northwestern, we interpret secular as meaning welcoming all religions equally, too, and watching these religious traditions thrive here.”
President Schapiro evoked a passage from the Book of Genesis, Chapter 23, “The Death of Sarah,” and he spoke of her age, recorded in the Bible to be 127 years at her passing. He talked about teaching his students how a life can be broken down into stages at which people learn different things. As they get older, they incorporate the knowledge gained from each of those stages, he said.